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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Human spatial navigation: Representations across dimensions and scales.

  • Author(s): Ekstrom, Arne D
  • Isham, Eve A
  • et al.

Humans, like many other species, employ three fundamental forms of strategies to navigate: allocentric, egocentric, and beacon. Here, we review each of these different forms of navigation with a particular focus on how our high-resolution visual system contributes to their unique properties. We also consider how we might employ allocentric and egocentric representations, in particular, across different spatial dimensions, such as 1-D vs. 2-D. Our high acuity visual system also leads to important considerations regarding the scale of space we are navigating (e.g., smaller, room-sized "vista" spaces or larger city-sized "environmental" spaces). We conclude that a hallmark of human spatial navigation is our ability to employ these representations systems in a parallel and flexible manner, which differ both as a function of dimension and spatial scale.

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